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Health & Safety Essentials Five things every employer must know

MGHSE001 AUG2016

Health and safety essentials Stay up to date, understand your health and safety obligations, ensure legal compliance, save money and get the best out of your employees. Without a health and safety management system in place the likelihood of a costly accident increases dramatically. A system should be designed to prevent accidents, to ensure legal compliance and to save costs to enable a business to be more efficient.

Did you know? Recent statistics state that 142 workers were killed at work (2014/15), there were 152,000 over 7-day injuries reported (2014/15) and 1.2 million people were suffering from a work related illness (2014/15)*.

Most of the time businesses don’t break the law knowingly, so staying up to date with legislation, getting the right advice and making good decisions is key. That’s why we’ve put together this quick five step guide to help you understand your obligations.



The Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 was established to control the number of fatalities arising out of work. Businesses failing to comply with the legislation will face penalties. Key legislation you need to know about includes (though is not limited to): • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 • Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

£14.3 billion was associated with workplace accidents and ill health in 2014–15

*All statistics courtesy of HSE

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• Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 • Work at Height Regulations 2005 • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

What can happen if you don’t comply? • £20,000 and/or 12 month’s imprisonment – for breach of health and safety regulations, failure to comply with an improvement or prohibition notice, or conviction of directors.

Between 1974 and 2007 the number of fatalities fell by


• At higher courts the fines may be unlimited and/or 2 years’ imprisonment.

HSE Fees for Intervention • The Health and Safety Executive can now charge a fee (£129 per hour) on the time they spend investigating companies who are in material breach of health and safety regulations. • This is in addition to any costs and fines associated with a prosecution that may arise out of such action.

Did you know? You cannot insure yourself against any fines that may be imposed by a court associated with a health and safety prosecution. As a result your insurance premiums will undoubtedly increase.



Your health and safety management system must be fit for your operations and must be established and run by people who are competent to do so. Competence is the ability to undertake responsibilities and perform activities to a recognised standard on a regular basis. It combines formal training as well as knowledge and experience. You will need to: • Identify who the ‘responsible person’ is for your company. You should consider their competencies for understanding and delivering the requirements of this role. • Appoint a competent person to manage day-to-day health and safety in-house. There may be a number of people for this depending on the nature of your business.

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• Ensure you have access to competent health and safety advice. If you have this knowledge inhouse then you should consider if there are any gaps in training or experience. You may also need to enlist the support of a consultant to ensure that you can ensure compliance • Develop a training matrix for all levels in the company. This should consider all training requirements from managerial to process-based operations as well as specific legal requirements. This can include training for: • Director, manager and supervisor health and safety awareness • Health and safety representatives • Employee induction and on-going awareness • First aid • Fire marshal and fire-fighting equipment • Work equipment and vehicles • Asbestos awareness • Work at height • Manual handling • Identify how training gaps can be filled. This may be undertaken in-house, through supervision and mentoring or by external training organisations. • Identify when refresher training needs to be undertaken. If you undertake some training in-house you should plan a review and set realistic refresher intervals yourself.

Did you know? Failure to comply with health and safety legislation can lead to an investigation and fines averaging £37,297*. Spot checks can also occur in high risk industries or where companies have been reported.

*HSE 2014/15

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Commitment, culture and communication 3

A health and safety management system will protect your business from adverse events but it has to be made known to all employees and has to be enforced where required. You will need to: • Develop a culture of health and safety from the top down to demonstrate leadership and the company commitment to a culture where relationships between employers and employees are based on collaboration, trust and joint problem solving. • Appoint a safety representative (either via a trade union process or an in-house ballot of employees if there is no union presence). • Have regular director-level meetings to discuss health and safety and to set an annual agenda including targets, resources and budget allocation. • Have regular management meetings to identify review of objectives against actual performance and to set additional actions. • Regularly consult employees by talking to them about risks and involving them in decisions. • Provide the workforce with opportunities to raise any concerns about health and safety. For example, this might be weekly or monthly meetings or other time set aside for such purposes. • Allow for employees to raise any health and safety concerns (either through the safety representative, directly to managers or via suggestions boxes, near miss reports, etc.). • Encourage a culture of openness and a system based on ‘improvement’ rather than on ‘blame’. • Inform all employees that health and safety is taken seriously and that willful negligence or nonparticipation can result in activation of disciplinary proceedings. • Communicate to clients, suppliers and others your commitment to health and safety and awareness of the standards that you have developed.

Did you know? The symptoms of a poor health and safety culture include: • Widespread, routine procedural violations. • Failures of compliance with health and safety systems. • Management decisions that put production or cost before safety. These conditions can be difficult to detect because a poor culture not only contributes to their occurrence, it also means that people may be inclined to hide or cover up violations and unsafe practices.

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Having control over your operations is the key to a successful health and safety management system. To do this you must identify where the risks are. You will need to: • Undertake a risk assessment to identify the significant hazards associated with your operations. You may need to enlist the help of employees and others in order to undertake this exercise. Our free risk assessment template can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page. • Identify the people who could be harmed and how (these may be employees, specific contractors, client staff, the general public, etc.) • Evaluate the identified hazards to determine the levels of risk presented with each. You should consider the likelihood of occurrence and the severity of the consequences. • Identify control measures that can be used to eliminate (preferable) or reduce the level of risk presented. A risk control system (RCS) can include training, procedures, safe systems of work (SSoW) as well as the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) as a last resort. At the heart of any risk control system, however, lies competency and communication. • Review your assessment regularly and update it as required. This should be done annually but also when situations change. For example, you introduce new machinery, new processes or operations that may affect the levels of risk in your business. • Consider specific risks that may have additional legislative requirements such as: • Display screen equipment (DSE) • Hazardous substances • Asbestos • Confined spaces • Lead • Fire • First aid • Vulnerable people (e.g. expectant mothers, young people, those with physical or other health needs). Click here to access our free risk assessment template.

Did you know? If you identify that there are hazards to health (e.g. carcinogens, dusts, fumes, fibres, etc.) then you may have to undertake health surveillance of your employees.

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Cooperation and coordination

Cooperation essentially means working with other duty-holders to ensure that information is shared. The coordination of this joint effort has to occur so that the management and risk control systems can be implemented and monitored. In order to successfully implement your health and safety management system you will need to consider the roles and responsibilities of: • Directors • Managers • Supervisors • Specific duty holders (e.g. fire marshals, first aiders) • Employees Your activities do not just affect you; your operations can often overlap with others. You should consider if there is a required to consult and cooperate with others when coordinating your health and safety system. These could include: • Shared workplaces (e.g. other employers operating in the same building or premises) • Neighbours (e.g. adjacent businesses or the general public) • Landlords (they may have some specific duties in your health and safety management system as defined by the terms of your lease) • Clients, if they are working on your premises or if you are working on theirs • Contractors, if you employ other individuals or companies to work on your behalf • Local authorities • Enforcing authorities such as the Fire and Rescue Service, Health and Safety Executive, Environment Agency. Finally, your management system should be documented so that it can be effectively implemented. This documentation should be as simple and practical as your operations require it to be. If your system is comprehensive yet understandable then you will ensure that more people will engage with it helping to make it more effective.

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Peace of mind that your business is protected The Forum of Private Business specialises in providing affordable employment law and H&S help and advice. Membership includes: • An unlimited helpline offering practical guidance on employment law, health and safety, marketing and business development • Protection for your business with our legal expense insurance, worth up to £50,000 per section of cover • Tailored advice and member services to save money, make money and help your business grow • Getting your views on pressing business issues heard by policy makers By leading you through new and ever evolving legislation we leave you free to concentrate on what you do best, running your business. With memberships starting from only £14.50 per month it’s the best decision you can make for your business today!

Call 01565 626001 or visit To keep in touch with the Forum, and stay up to date with the latest business advice, opinion and news, follow us at:

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Our expertise is your expertise For more information on how we can help your business with simply contact our helpline team on 01565 626001, visit our website or email us

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Forum of Private Business - Mini Guide - Health & Safety Essentials  

Essential guidance for your business.

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